Until I buckle down and write up an account of my recent trip to Mongolia – pictures of which can be seen on Tumblr – here’s a brief post on our family outing to Exmoor National Park in June.
A small but enchanting parcel of land, Exmoor is amongst my favourite spots in the UK. Located in the rolling hills of the South West, the land ranges from verdant coombes harbouring secret mossy glades, to open and windswept moorland, where views can be enjoyed across the Bristol Channel to Wales. What’s more, the park is strangely overlooked by mountain bikers. Which means its trails are all but empty, even on a fine summer’s day; miles and miles of rooty singletrack, stony double track, stream crossings and lung busting climbs, all to yourself…
If you would like to keep up with where I am between tardy blog entries, I keep my While Out Riding Facebook page more regularly updated – along with posting extra photos and gear ponderings. Occasionally, I post pictures on my Instagram feed. And if you haven’t overdosed by then, I’ve also started a While Out Riding Tumblr edition, focusing on images – many of which don’t make it onto the blog.
For this 3 day trip, we parked up in Exford, criss-crossing the park to the coastal village of Porlock via Hawcombe, then looping back again on singletrack and backroads.
Exmoor abounds in these ‘tree tunnels’, as Sage calls them. Ferns reach out to brush us as we ride by, and light flickers on and off through a canopy of summer foliage.
Headbutt of Happiness.
Working our way out of Exford’s deep valley folds, towards the highest point in Devon.
Dunkery Beacon, 520m!! We enjoyed fantastic views to Wales across the Bristol Channel.
Although it doesn’t look steep in this image, much of the descent that follows is awkward and rocky – perfect terrain for testing the capabilities of the Singletrailer.
These days Sage is an old hand at camping. He knows the drill.
A perfect little wild camp spot. The Black Diamond Megalight scores highly in Sage’s book – it’s fun to pitch, and he can stand up inside.
Asphalt is just fine when it’s cupped by valleys like these.
Here begins a multitude of stream crossings, as we descend to Hawcombe.
The narrow profile of the Singletrailer really comes into its own.
Even pushing it through rock-strewn river crossings is a lot easier than a two wheeled trailer.
Shoes are soon abandoned for the pleasures (and practicalities) of being barefoot.
Horner Vale offers a welcome excuse for a cream tea.
There’s few finer places to be than England when the sun’s shining in the summer…
A pretty vintage MG.
And Sage’s open top…
A Sage moment.
A Nancy moment.
Sage has gravitated from jumping off curbs… to any available object.
A long way from New Mexico!
Our second night camping is in a riverside clearing.
At two and a half, Sage is beginning to really enjoy these experiences, rather than merely participating in them. He delights in helping to pitch the tent and throws himself into camp duties with gusto – choosing the campsite, preparing dinner…
and even washing up!
Enjoying a lie in.
Before scouting a good route for our last day of riding.
Back up to Dunkery.
Then it’s down to Exford once more.
I migrated parts from my Surly Pugsley to a pre-production Tumbleweed, which I’m borrowing at the moment. Handmade in San Francisco by Cameron Falconer, it’s as at home lugging a family’s worth of gear and sundries, as it is traversing the Mongol steppe or railing down technical singletrack. Designed around a 135mm Rohloff Speedhub, it can run 26x4in tyres or 29+ and B+ wheel sizes too, all with a standard crankset. Clever!
Nancy’s ride: a custom-coupled Travellin’ Trolloff, sporting 2.75in Dirt Wizards. Built up with a Rohloff Speedhub, Jeff Jones Bend H-bars, Middleburn cranks, Velocity P-35s, and an SP dynamo hub, it’s a dream travel bike!
Keep Pedalling in Manchester, for lending us their personal Surly Troll (details above).
Tumbleweed Bicycle Company for the loan of a pre-production frame (details above).
Tout Terrain for lending us their latest incarnation of the Singletrailer, with a redesigned arm offering extra clearance for 29er (and fatbike) tyres.
Howard and Nicky for feeding us in their beautiful Exmoor home!